To pay or not to pay for 5G spectrum in India?

To pay or not to pay for 5G in India?

The 5G debate in India continues. The latest submission, according to the Indian press, comes from the industry think-tank Broadband India Forum.

The BIF has apparently made a representation to PD Vaghela, the new chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), for a review of norms around spectrum pricing and allocation, notably the E band (between 57-64 GHz) and the V band (71-76 and 81-86 GHz).

The BIF apparently also discussed other key subjects including possible methods for companies to make a reasonable return on investment in digital infrastructure, proliferation of public Wi-Fi hotspots, satellite communication and virtual network operators.

This meeting isn’t the only recent one involving submissions about bandwidth. The Cellular Operators Authority of India (COAI) also presented submissions to Vaghela last week.

Apparently BIF and COAI have been at odds over the allocation of E and V band spectrum, which will be crucial for delivering high-speed 5G services. 

It has been five years since TRAI recommended that both E-band and V-band should be opened with what is referred to as ‘light touch regulation’ and that allotment should be on a first-come-first-served basis.

This has got BIF’s approval and that of India’s internet service providers’ association. However, mobile operators are worried that without auctions non-licensed companies may be offered a low-cost way into the 5G service provision market.

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